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Educators are busy people – even in the summer when many of them do not have classrooms full of students. They attend workshops, they re-write curriculum, and they take courses to enhance their knowledge and skills. With all that they do, it is easy to neglect a critical factor in education – technology. But individual professional development may be easier than you think … here are 5 books that will both inform and stimulate!
THE WORLD IS OPEN by Curtis Bonk
Perhaps the most important statement in this book is, “Anyone can now learn anything from anyone anytime.” This work is an exploration of how technology has already changed education and how the future will be even more transformative. Bonk sees great hope for everyone in these new tech trends, especially young people in the educational system. The book includes many examples of how technology is going far beyond just the use of computer-assisted instruction in a traditional classroom and online coursework. (e.g., summer archeological digs in several countries, in which all students collaborated and shared virtually). As a summary of the 10 most important technology and learning trends, this book is superb.
GETTING SMART: HOW DIGITAL LEARNING IS CHANGING THE WORLD by Tom Vander Ark
Ark’s concept of a “smart school” is one in which online and onsite learning prepare students for the future global economy of ideas. He looks at the potential for web-based learning to revise the trend of “dumbing down” our schools, and truly challenges the traditional educational structures and classroom delivery systems. The first part of this book focuses on how technology is changing the learning environment, with self-paced and self-directed activities with access to the best learning materials available. The second part deals with policy change proposals that will turn traditional education on its head (e.g., funding individual students as opposed to schools), and there is much for educators to think about in this section.
ONE WORLD SCHOOLHOUSE: EDUCATION REIMAGINED by Salman Khan
Who in education hasn't heard of the Khan Academy by now? In this book, Khan tells the story of the evolution of the Khan Academy. Along the way he makes a powerful case for the ideas that drove the formation of this pioneering education technology non-profit powerhouse, and how those notions can truly transform education and deliver on the promise of technology. Anyone paying the least bit of attention to the state of education outcomes and credential attainment can hardly deny that this model is overdue for some changes. The old model doesn’t fit our changing needs.
Khan explains that the dialogue about the need for change has been going on for decades but, “instead of acting, people just keep talking about incremental changes”. The dialogue consistently stops short of the fundamental questions that the situation demands, “focusing instead on a handful of familiar but misplaced obsessions like test scores and graduation rates”. While these are not trivial concerns, the higher goal is empowering future generations to live productive lives and fulfill the responsibilities of a true democracy.
This work contains the author’s vision for creating a new world of learning. Chen begins by revisiting the state of technology in learning institutions today and then looks at how technology can actually be used to revolutionize education. He speaks to 6 leading edges, and three of them specifically relate to the transforming nature that technology will have. One “edge” involves thinking about what teaching and learning should “looks like,” because traditional classrooms no longer motivate kids. A second edge relates to time and place of learning, in that we have to get rid of the notion of an agrarian school year and the need for every kid to be physically in the classroom every day. Access to learning, according to Chen, will ultimately be a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week activity. The third edge will be the putting in the hands of every kid a computer at school and a tablet for home, along with free Internet access. This, to Chen will equalize educational opportunities.
While these authors do not all address the same topics, and while they do not all see precisely the same future for ed tech, their ideas, their suggestions, and their visions all bear study and discussion by educators.
GROWN UP DIGITAL: HOW THE NET GENERATION IS CHANGING YOUR WORLD by Don Tapscott
This is not a traditional “ed tech” book, but is instead an exploration of the modern traditional-aged student and how living in an era more immersed in digital technology than any generation before has impacted them. Tapscott is one of the world's leading authorities on innovation, media, and the economic and social impacts of technology. His seminal co-authored title “Wikinomics” has been translated into more than twenty different languages.